Train Through Fence [15 Words or Less]

Hello, and welcome! This is 15 Words or Less Poems, a low-pressure way to wake up your poetry brain (guidelines here), and I’m very glad you’re here. 

Train Through Fence
Photo: Laura P. Salas

I love trains, and I’ve never been on a “real” train ride–just a couple of scenic rides and then commuter rides in big cities. There are railroad tracks near our home, and Randy and I were walking one night recently and watched this one go underneath us.

This image makes me think of several things:

  1. hoboes (I was a hobo for Halloween at least twice as a kid)
  2. sky walkers on airplanes
  3. how trains seem so lonely–always passing through, never staying

And here’s my first draft. 

Train Passing Through


It’s your turn! Have fun and stick to 15 WORDS OR LESS! (Title doesn’t count toward word count.)











37 Responses

  1. Oh. There is a tinge of sadness there in places he will never go….at least for me. I want to go EVERYwhere! Last week’s Poetry Friday post from Kiesha Shepard wrote about seasons for trains in our lives. I love her invitation to listen to familiar sounds.

    Train Song

    Clickety-clack far
    now close
    the world is magic!

    Horn wailing low
    come along?
    or go?

    1. Linda, I love how you get the movement of the Train by the distance being far and then close. That constant motion is what I love about trains. And yes my phone was definitely sad today.

      1. I have a poem I wrote about a family story and a train ride. So this image brought back those memories and I had to put on a different lens in order to write today. My father was in the Army Air Corps during WWII and had a 5 day leave. He road the train for 2 days to NY, saw my mom, then his girlfriend mainly via letter, for one day and back to Texas for 2 more days. So I feel the magic you write about, Linda. I grew up on Long Island so trains were pretty much everywhere and a part of life. We always could hear their distant horns for the stations in our little city. And Laura, I am sad for the person in your poem who never got to travel, something I know you love and I do, too.Melancholy.

    1. What a fun friendship that would be a chipmunk and a train. I love the unexpectedness of that and also the affection for those things that we can’t even really know, necessarily.

    2. Hi Amelia,

      I can just imagine the little chipmunk who might wish to hop aboard for a train ride and hunt for a treasure of nuts! It’s nice to think how any combination of people can become friends and care.

  2. Mary Lee Hahn recommended Train I Ride as a middle grade book about a girl who’s going through a transition in her life. She even changes her name to Ryder. I enjoyed the story and the idea that a train can be a place of transformation.

    Red-faced engine
    slices through the fields,
    a ride to anywhere
    or nowhere–
    you decide.

    1. I like the idea of the train as a metaphor for transformation. I’ll have to check out Train I Ride. I enjoyed reading your poem.

    2. My granddaughter, aged 20 months, is currently smitten with trains. For her.… any train makes her glow. But on your train.…it’s all about choosing. What will it be? Would that we could all be moving toward something better, or good, or important, or healing or wise.…..

  3. Oh Laura, what memories you have stirred. First, your verse reminds me of Carl Sandburg, who was a hobo for a time; my grandpa worked for Southern Railway which provided free passage for Grandma who in turn allowed her grandchildren to ride free until age 6. I remember every trip with her and what I wore, even at such a young age.


    You’re the engine
    I’m the caboose
    you pull
    I push
    protection for
    precious cargo.

    1. Wow, what an exciting travel for a young child. I am jealous. I love this poems recognition of a trained as an ensemble, as teamwork. I never thought of it that way before.

  4. I love the perspective of your photograph. I remember when my Grandmother would come up from the city on the train. Those were the days before the doors opened automatically. I loved watching her emerge from the door and climb down the steps. Your poem was lovely today, and to me, a little sad.

    Royal Steel

    Majestic engine chuffs.
    Steel veil trails behind.
    Amber waves of grain bow in her wake.

    1. Oh, Jean. That steal veil is a stunning image. Brava! I have never lived in a town that a train actually came through. I mean a train with an actual train stop. That just seems so cool.

  5. I don’t like trans much have lived by them my hol life one took my grandefothers life one foggy moring when my dad was 6 then once when wmy art awarde was given out to a seaner the byio reciving ti was hit by oune and took his life that was horbal for me they gave it to his sisther Lara your poem seans sad to me because an on line frend just lost here sos to suside not shor how but your poem seams sad today


    Trains with paper engines
    Alphabets of wills
    Words snaking
    Paper tack pulling
    Paper cubs
    Distention unknown

    1. Oh, Jessica, what sad train memories. I’m so sorry. My poem is sad today. It’s not sad because of trains taking lives or anything. It’s more that trains represent the ability to go anywhere, but I was thinking about kids and people who don’t have any choices. Who are stuck wherever they are and who can watch choices and opportunities go rolling by and know that they’re not for them. I so enjoyed your poem and your wheel alphabets.

    2. I wasn’t quite sure about lines three and four, though. Did the words in those lines come out as you meant them to? The words tack and cubs were what I wasn’t sure of…

        1. I like how your title shows us that you have created the book as a train ride and I love “Destination Unknown” Kind of like how we don’t know if we will love a book before we start to read it, sometimes we don’t like the beginning but we forge on and the ending is oh, so satisfying. Sorry this brings up sad thoughts for you, today. I saw the movie Girl on a Train and that had sadness all throughout the mystery. Wishing I had a magic wand to make things brighter for you and all of us.

  6. I don’t like trans much have lived by them my hol life one took my grandefothers life one foggy moring when my dad was 6 then once when wmy art awarde was given out to a seaner the boy reciving ti was hit by oune and took his life that was horbal for me they gave it to his sisther Lara your poem seans sad to me because an on line frend just lost here sos to suside not shor how but your poem seams sad today


    Trains with paper engines
    Alphabets of wills
    Words snaking
    Paper tack pulling
    Paper cubs
    Distention unknown

    1. Yes, Jessica, I thought Laura’s poem seemed sad, too. And I’m saddened by all the traumatic experiences you have been through that the train’s bring back to mind. There are definitely many ways to see things — the good and the bad.
      I love your paper trains with unknown destinations! I had an alphabet train in my classroom as a child — and when I first started teaching!

  7. Lots of train thoughts, but I was especially struck by the color of the engine. Why is there something melancholy about trains? Maybe the sound of the whistle, and the continual goodbye. But that’s another poem!

    Red train heads east,
    dream of folding hills
    with a red banner
    of fall trees

    —Kate Coombs

    1. The continual goodbye. There is a poem! This is so lovely, Kate. Those folding hills and red banner. Welcome back!

    2. The reds in New England were glorious this year and I can attest to feeling folded in a red banner on some roads. It’s like a glimpse as we drive or train by in a rush and we want to hold the vision forever. I do love train rides and hope to take the wonderful one with the viewing cars on a westward journey some day. I take trains down to NYC sometimes.…I like to get up and stretch!

  8. I have fond and strange memories of train rides. I love my train rides to PA to see my daughter and her family. I always like my rides home, too.


    Riding all day
    With my back-pack
    Leaving today
    Ain’t comin’ back!

    By Donna JT Smith

    1. Yes! I agree with Laura. A fun one to read aloud AND to consider. But I think we are almost always pulled back toward whatever and where ever home may be.…I like the rhythm a lot, Donna.

  9. I had forgotten about those Halloween hobo costumes–thanks for the reminder, Laura. You’ve got to wonder why this was a thing, other than the costume “preparation” was usually under 5 minutes.

    Halloween Hobo, circa 1966–1968

    Dad’s rumpled old shirt–check.
    Pillowcase for loot–check.
    Ready to ride the rails!

    1. Love the enthusiastic voice in this. I think you are exactly right. It was just the ease of the costume!

    2. Yes! I am with Laura and those costumes were fun.…can you imagine living that way? There is a great book by Patricia Polacco about a family that feeds/nourishes some of the hoboes who stop at their home. Can’t recall the title. Maybe Orange is part of it. A very good book and I am particularly fond of Patricia’s books. She has visited our school about 3 times and I have seen her at conferences, too. She is a treasure.

  10. Alone With My Thoughts on a Crowded Train

    Whistle signals

    Train’s here!

    Climb aboard

    Snag space.

    Phone on,

    Paper up

    Game face

    Commuter race!

    I began the year with the goal of being here weekly and that did not work out. Back I come to get the poetry words moving again. I do love this place and appreciate the community with all its ebbs and flows.


    In pen,
    alone again,


    Whistle blows.
    Train goes,


    Ground shakes.
    Fence breaks.


  12. Cindyb,

    I love the action and the true dog-ness in your poem!! I am sitting here babysitting my granddog whom I adore. At least she is not the kind to run-away and chase a train. I want to keep her close.

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